9/11 Victim Fund

After the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11th, 2001, upending thousands of lives in the process, many victims considered filing lawsuits against the airlines that allowed hijackers onto their planes as well as financers of the terrorist attacks. Lawmakers were worried that these lawsuits could potentially bankrupt commercial airline carriers, which was why the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and the WTC Health Program were both created.

Billions of dollars in compensation have been paid to victims and their families in New York and other residencies. A portion of the funds was used to pay injured first responders. The funds were supposed to pay for healthcare expenses that were accrued due to injuries and cancer victims developed as a result of 9/11.

Broughton Partners works with law firms to help them find qualified 9/11 victim plaintiffs who are in need of legal representation to file for damages. Our main goal is to provide our clients with the qualified 9/11 victim claimants they need. Contact our team to learn more about our services and to start helping more 9/11 claimants.

About the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) awards compensation to people (or representatives/loved ones of a deceased individual) who were:

  • Present at the crash sites in Shanksville, PA, and the Pentagon
  • Present in the exposure zone in New York City between the dates of September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002
  • Diagnosed with illnesses related to 9/11

Compensation is available to first responders, people who volunteered or worked in construction, people who cleared debris, and people who attended school, worked, or lived in the exposure area.

In July 2019, the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act” was signed into law. The VCF became fully funded to pay any eligible claims and extended the deadline to file a claim to October 1, 2090. The advocates, survivors, and responders who tirelessly worked to get this law passed have helped the VCF continue its important work.

The VCF has a reputation of being defensible to taxpayers, fair to claimants, and faithful to the statute, which is why it will continue to act as trusted administrators of the funding for many decades to come, ensuring that it will be used for the purpose it was intended for.

Effects of Hazardous Exposure

Volunteers and emergency responders worked tirelessly to put out smoldering fires and clean up the rubble. The dust at Ground Zero was about all that was left of the tragedy. These brave men and women have suffered from a variety of physical symptoms, disorders, and diseases due to their exposure to the toxic elements that were present where the World Trade Center once stood since the attacks. These injuries have taken a serious toll on responders as well as their families, causing disabilities and, in some cases, death.

Risk of Cancer for 9/11 Responders & Rescue Workers

When the twin towers collapsed, a 400-ton plume of pulverized asbestos, along with other hazardous materials, was released all over lower Manhattan.

Cancer and Respiratory Illnesses Linked to Toxic Dust

During the rescue, recovery, and cleanup efforts following the attacks, between 410,000 and 525,000 people, as well as over 90,000 workers, were exposed to the toxic dust. Studies show that businesses and neighborhoods south of Canal Street were covered in highly toxic dust. Scientific research indicates that dust from the World Trade Center consisted of the following contaminants:

  • Asbestos
  • Fiberglass
  • Metal
  • Plastics
  • Jet fuel
  • High pH levels of 10 and 11

Mount Sinai’s director of the World Trade Center Health Program’s lead clinical center, Dr. Michael Crane, described the dust as thick and terrible. Every substance in the toxic dust will never be known as there were not many direct measurements taken of the dust following the destruction of the towers.

For 90 days, fires burned at Ground Zero, releasing toxic smoke that exposed students, workers, residents, volunteers, and first responders to numerous carcinogens. Survivors have since then developed life-threatening cancers, lung disease, and respiratory illnesses.

Medical professionals have diagnosed a chronic cough unique to 9/11 survivors. Known as the “World Trade Center cough,” this persistent cough is accompanied by other symptoms including nasal congestion, acid reflux, wheezing, and breathlessness.

Who Is Most at Risk of 9/11-Related Health Issues

Anyone who was within a 1.5-mile radius of the twin towers was at risk of asbestos exposure and other carcinogens, including dioxins, benzene, mercury, and lead, according to the World Trade Center Health Program.

A 2011 study showed that firefighters who were exposed to the dust from the World Trade Center were more than 19% likely to develop cancer than the rest of the population.

People Who Are Most at Risk:

  • Residents and survivors of 9/11
  • Cleanup workers
  • Search and rescue workers
  • First responders, including firefighters

9/11 Victim Claims

Individuals with 9/11-related respiratory illnesses or cancers must file a claim right away. Claims must be filed within two years of when a victim discovered that their illness was due to the 9/11 attacks. The window to file VCF claims is beginning to close. All VCF claims, regardless of the type of illness, must be filed by December 18, 2020 in order to receive compensation.

Claim Eligibility

Claimants may be eligible to file a claim through the Victims Compensation Fund if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Developed any form of cancer or respiratory illness from 2014 to 2020.
  • Attended school, worked, or lived south of Canal Street in Manhattan between September 11, 2001, and May 31, 2002.
  • As of May 31, 2020, there were 31,279 “Approved Eligibility Determinations.”

Illness Eligibility

The carcinogenic, toxic dust from the attacks has resulted in various respiratory illnesses that, under the fund, may qualify for compensation, including:

  • Acid reflux disease
  • Asbestosis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Asthma
  • Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS)
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Obstructive airway diseases
  • Interstitial lung disease

Victims who developed cancer as a result of 9/11 may also be eligible to receive VCF compensation. The most common forms of cancer related to 9/11 include:

  • Leukemia
  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma skin cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer

September 11, 2001

19 militants part of the Islamic terrorist group al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States.

October 8, 2001

President George W. Bush announced the creation of The Office of Homeland Security to “develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks.”

November 8, 2004

A report by the Rand Institute for Civil Justice found that 9/11 victims received an average of $3.1 million per person, totaling $8.7 billion. About $38 billion in all is paid out by the government, charities and insurance companies. Insurance companies pay the most, covering 51%. The majority of the money goes to New York businesses.

May 2006

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that 2 to 3 years after September 11, survivors of buildings that collapsed or that were damaged as a result of the World Trade Center attack reported substantial physical and mental health problems.

October 17, 2006

A federal judge rejected New York City’s motion to dismiss 9/11 lawsuits from first responders who are requesting health payments.

January 2010

A study found that respiratory hospital admissions among lower Manhattan residents increased significantly in the first week after 9/11. Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease admissions also increased two to three weeks after 9/11.

October 2010

A study compared two groups of women who were pregnant between 9/11/01 and 12/1/01 (500 women in the WTC Health Registry, and 50,000 women who lived at least 5 miles from the WTC). Registry enrollees with probable PTSD were more likely than women without PTSD to deliver premature or underweight babies.

January 2, 2011

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 is signed into law by President Barack Obama. It renewed and expanded the Victim Compensation Fund.

September 12, 2012

The final rule adding 58 types of cancer to “the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions” was published in the Federal Register.

July 29, 2019

President Donald Trump signed a $10 billion legislation authorizing support for the Victims Compensation Fund through 2092.

References

CNN Library. “September 11 Victim Aid and Compensation Fast Facts”, CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2013/07/27/us/september-11th-victim-aid-and-compensation-fast-facts/index.html. Accessed June 22, 2020.

David Biello. “What Was in the World Trade Center Plume? [Interactive]”, Scientific American, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-was-in-the-world-trade-center-plume/#:~:text=Calcium%20Carbonate,%2C%20noses%2C%20throats%20and%20lungs. Accessed June 22, 2020.

Rachel Zeig-Owens, MPH et. al. “Early assessment of cancer outcomes in New York City firefighters after the 9/11 attacks: an observational cohort study”, The Lancet, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2811%2960989-6/fulltext. Accessed June 22, 2020.

WTC Health Program. “Covered Conditions”, World Trade Center Health Program, https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/conditions.html. Accessed June 22, 2020.

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